On 17 March 2012, Sunila Abeysekera, a prominent Sri Lankan Human Rights Defender, was branded as working for the LTTE in an article published on the State-sponsored Lanka C News website. There were disturbing comments made by the readers, including calls for her to be killed and her house burnt to the ground.
Sunila is still unable to return to Sri Lanka or be reunited with her family. By adding your name to this petition you will be sending a strong message to the Sri Lankan government that it cannot threaten and harass activists with impunity. Let them know that the world is paying attention to the future and safety of Sunila Abeysekera and her targeted colleagues working for human rights in Sri Lanka. Thank you!
Dear President Rajapaksa,
On 17 March 2012, Sunila Abeysekera (along with three other prominent human rights defenders, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Nimalka Fernando and Sunanda Deshapriya) was branded as working for the LTTE in an article published on the Lanka C News website. There were disturbing comments made by the readers including calls for the defenders to be killed and their houses burnt. On the same date, an article entitled “Sri Lankan NGO activists work with LTTE in Geneva” was published on http://news.lk, which is the official government news portal in Sri Lanka. It alleged that the defenders “depend on foreign funds for their survival and continue to work for their masters by engaging in acts to betray Sri Lanka in Geneva”.
The signatories below express deep concern for the physical and psychological integrity of human rights defenders in Sri Lanka, including Sunila Abeysekera, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Nimalka Fernando and Sunanda Deshapriya, in light of the threats and media smear campaign to which they have been subjected, and believes they are directly related to their human rights work and their exposure of human rights violations in Sri Lanka at the 19th session of the Human Rights Council.
We call on the government of Sri Lanka to immediately stop the smear campaign against these prominent human rights defenders and to engage them in real dialogue about how to improve human rights policies for all Sri Lankans.